Protestantism in Laos
Protestantism in Laos is roughly half of the Christian population of the country, the Christian population counting 150,000 people. Most of the Protestants in Laos are part of the Lao Evangelical Church. With around 300 congregations, Protestantism has grown rapidly in the last decade.
The first Protestants in Laos arrived at the start of the twentieth century. However, none became firmly established until after independence and then British and American denominations arrived.
The Lao Evangelical Church is one of the Holiness churches of Laos and has branches is the majority of provinces. Another denomination is Seventh-day Adventist church of Laos which was founded in 1973. There are many neo-Protestant groups in Laos with missionary actions are strongest towards minority groups, many of which refuse to take part in everyday society.
The Mission Évangélique au Laos (MEL) is one of the largest Christian denominations of Laos. The MEL is a Christian Brethren church. Most members of the MEL belong to ethnic minorities of the South of Laos, and membership exceeds 10,000.
According to the US government, there have been instances of the Laotian government attempting to make Christians renounce their faith, and have several times closed down Christian churches. They also say that there are two religious prisoners in Laos, both members of the Lao Evangelical Church and that, in 2005, a church in Savannakhet Province was closed down by the government. Lao officials consider this slander, denying that they have closed any churches and saying that those Christians imprisoned are not imprisoned because of their religion but for other reasons. No religious groups within the country have mentioned their churches being closed or their clergy being imprisoned, even the Evangelicals (and only them) who did mention other complaints, such as hindering attempts to build new churches.
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- "Annual Report on International Religious Freedom". US State Department. September 2004. Archived from the original on June 23, 2006. Retrieved 2006-07-22.
- Morev, Lev (2002). "Religion in Laos Today". Religion, State and Society. 30 (4): 395–407. doi:10.1080/09637490220127602.
- Krause, Gerhard; Müller, Gerhard; Schwertner, Siegfried M. (1977). Theologische Realenzyklopädie. Walter de Gruyter. p. 444. ISBN 3-11-012655-9. Retrieved 2008-05-17.
- "International Religious Freedom Report 2002". US State Department. October 7, 2002. Retrieved 2006-07-06.